How to engage your tweens and teens to participate in family fun

By Angie Norris

Everyone knows how hard it can be to get kids to want to participate in family activities, especially when they start to hit those tween and teen ages. The truth of the matter is when these teens reach adulthood, family nights are the times they’ll look back on and remember in their hearts. Get your kids to not only take part in family time but actually look forward to them by planning fun events that are undeniably worth doing.

Family card tournament

A fun way to engage your kids during family time and get them off the screens is to play cards. Break out a deck and play blackjack, war, rummy or even memory. UNO is always a favorite and can become very competitive so the kids will get a kick out of the possibility of triumph. Some of us spent a lot of time playing cards when we were younger because we didn’t have internet or game systems, so playing with your kids can bring you nostalgia as well.

Creative paintings

Let your kids show their inner artist by painting something for themselves that they can hang in their room. Whether it’s on a canvas, wood plaque, or just a poster board, the kids will love being able to express themselves with art. Have them paint something that they love or that relates to them or their childhood. With a little paint and some brushes, they can create something that they will want to hold on to because it was made by them for them.

Lea and Molly Norris create homemade pizzas. (Photo by Angie Norris)

Yardwork and memories

One of the things I remember about my childhood is my dad teaching me to mow the grass. I felt so grown up and proud when my dad told me I did a good job after mowing for the first time. While it may be a chore to us now that we’re adults, kids look at it like a fun new adventure. Supervised, of course, teach your tweens or teens how to mow. Whether with a push mower or riding mower, they will feel happy knowing you trust them enough to teach them. Have them see how straight they can get the lines using a push mower, and it will show them how strong they are. Using a riding mower is great for learning how to steer, stop and go, which will be useful when they start learning to drive.

Kitchen creations

Most kids enjoy eating pizza, but more than that, they enjoy making pizza. Making their own pizza lets them be creative, as well as learn to measure, mix, put ingredients together and use the oven properly. You can purchase everything you need at the local grocery store. Start with making pizza dough. There are many packaged pizza crusts you can choose from or make your own using instructions online. Set out all your toppings that they can choose from. You’ll need pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella or cheese of your choosing, meats like pepperoni, sausage or ham and add veggies such as mushrooms, peppers, or onions. They can use the toppings to make fun designs or faces on their pizza. Help your kids place the dough on a baking sheet and press the dough into a pizza shape. Add the sauce, cheese and toppings and bake until cheese is bubbly. Your kids will love this cooking activity and will enjoy it even more knowing they made it on their own. This will, for sure, be something they look back on and remember when they are parents teaching their own kids one day.

Having ways to engage your tweens and teens in family time is so important for their growth. It shows them that they can learn important life lessons to use as adults while having fun and making memories.